Monday, May 17, 2010

KO Korner: G1 Transformers Les Robots Dinosaures "Grimlock"

Name: TL-331 Tyrannosaurus
Line: LesRobots Dinosaures (Aptoys)
Year: unknown
Price: unknown

Today's review will be different than any of the past as we'll take a look at a knock-off or bootleg toy. I normally steer clear of these for oh so many reasons, but this is one that I stumbled across that I just couldn't say no to. Why? Read on.


As you may be able to tell from the packaging this is a transforming dinosaur robot. What the trained eye may not be able to tell though (unless you are a geek like me!) is that this is no ordinary transforming dinosaur. More specifically a knock-off of the 1985 Transformers Generation One Dinobot Grimlock. This toy was made in Taiwan by a company called Aptoys. I have no further information on the history of this toy unfortunately. The figure is simply referred to as TL-331 Tyrannosaurus. As you can tell from the packaging it is very colorful sporting a lime green color with yellow trim and multicolored dinosaurs. What kid wouldn't have wanted this back in the day? I should note my specimen here didn't come with a plastic window on the box. Not sure if it ever had one to begin with.


The back of the box is a little better than the front as it features some artwork of this toy as well as the other 2 released in the line. TL-332 Triceratope is obviously a knock-off of G1 Slag while TL-333 Prontosaurus is a knock-off of G1 Sludge albeit with some changes! Our new version of Grimlock here isn't without his own changes either. At first glance you may not notice anything different on the artwork, but if you look closer at the back you'll see there is now a stretch of scales making a rigid fin running from the base of the neck to the tip of the tail. More on that later. You may have also noticed a crude transformation sequence of instructions printed on the upper left hand of the box. I can tell from the 4 tiny pictures that this transforms in the same manner as G1 Grimlock.


Now let's take Grimlock out of the box so we can take a closer look. The toy is sealed onto a cardboard insert featuring more realistic art. After looking at the art on the back of the box and even the front this seems a little out of place. But who cares about the art...we bought this for the toy! Grimlock here is cast in a dark green plastic with the neck joint being a translucent neon yellow plastic. The toes, tail, arms and other bits are a gold chrome (replacing silver chrome on the real toy). Here we can also see some of the changes they made to the mold outside of the color differences. Earlier I noticed the new spine on the back. Here you can see this new molded spine runs from the base of the neck to the tip of the tail. The portion of the spine on the lower back (which forms the legs) doesn't seem to fit very well and doesn't look integrated at all. The other new part isn't quite as noticeable at first. On top of the dino head is a gold chrome bump. I'm not sure how else to describe it! What purpose it serves I have no idea. Perhaps something that was just thrown on to avoid legal ramifications?


Without taking the toy completely out of the packaging it's hard to get a good camera angle of this gold bump added to the top of the head. Sorry guys.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

I was surprised to see that the weapons included are all reproductions of the original. The sword is now gold chrome instead of the softer red plastic used in the original. All the weapons seem to be in the same scale as the original which is a plus.

I've seen the knock-off version of Sludge from this line before, but I've never seen this toy let alone packaged and still sealed. I'm not planning on opening it since I have a G1 Grimlock and since I don't how good (or bad) the plastic quality is. I do think it's one of the better looking G1 knock-offs I've seen in my years of collecting and a nice little conversation piece.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Transformers Generation 1: Snare (Predator)

Name: Snare
Line: Transformers - Generation One (Hasbro, European exclusive)
Year: 1992
Price: unknown

Function: Surveillance


"Fear? What's that? It's all fun to me."

The crazy loner. Knows no fear. It makes no difference to him if nothing remains of him, as long as he has had fun. Uncommonly dangerous in his role as a sentry and guard. As an airplane, is deadly and streamlined, with extra sight thanks to his Megavisor-system. As a robot, attacks with a rocket launcher.

Strength: 7 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 9 Endurance: 9
Rank: 6 Courage: 9 Firepower: 8 Skill: 7

I've got a quick little review of the European exclusive Deception Predator jet, Snare. Is it worth the $.80 I paid?   Let's see!

Snare is a member of the subgroup of Decepticons called the Predators. Hasbro on released this toy in parts of Europe and Takara later in Japan as Flarejet as part of a two pack. The jet is based on the real world design of a Grumman X-29 jet fighter. Snare is a typical G1 style mold, yet the color scheme screams G2. Snare comes packaged with several neon green missiles as well as a gold missile launcher that doubles as a hand gun. The mold features G1 articulation...which is basically next to none! In jet mode he does have retractable landing gear underneath the nose and two sets in the rear. Most of the jet is molded in a pinkish-red plastic with a little teal paint applied to the top sides of the wing tips. The rear jet and shoulders of the robot are painted a copper color. The rest of the colors come from stickers, blue featuring the standard Decepticon emblem on each wing and a blue sticker on the nose of the jet. The canopy is molded in a translucent yellow plastic. The jet itself is rather small. I'd compare it to the size of a modern Revenge of the Fallen scout class toy. There isn't a lot of detail molded into the jet outside the usual metal panels. There are some small intake jets molded into the top of the robot's arms which I thought was a nice touch considering the arms exposed in jet mode take away from the jet's overall look. There are small pegs on the underside of the wing's tips that allow the green missiles to be attached.

Also on the underside is a little gimmick exclusive to the Predator toys...a view finder or as his tech specs call it a Megavisor. This particular one features the Autobot Boss. You could attach Snare or any other small Predator jet to Skyquake or Stalker to activate the Megavisor and pretend you were targeting the Autobot enemies. Simple gimmick, but innovative at the same time.

Transformation is very simplistic.

1) Flip up the landing gear

2) Flip out the robot's feet

3) Pull down the legs

4) Flip down the jet's cockpit

5) Fold up the head

There isn't a whole lot to say about Snare's robot mode. The only articulation in robot mode is at the shoulders allowing the arms to move up and down. There is some nice light piping in the back of the robot's head allowing light to shine through and illuminate the translucent yellow eyes. There are a few more stickers visible in robot mode. One blue sticker on each leg around the landing gear and two smaller green stickers on the waist.

Word of caution though if you plan to track down this toy. The missile launcher suffers from GPS - Gold Plastic Syndrome. I own two of this toy and neither came with the gun. The same color gold plastic on my Skyquake (as well as Pyro/Spark) has already chipped/cracked/broke so it's just as well I guess that I don't own Snare's gun! (quick eBay search)

I don't remember what I paid for the first Snare that I bought, but when I ran across this toy some time ago on eBay I couldn't resist placing a small bid. The seller had no idea what it was other than a Transformer and the listing must have gone unnoticed for the most part thanks in part to the bland title and description. If you are a fan of G1/G2 and don't mind a very simple toy then I recommend this toy. It's not worth the high price tag that it comes with on eBay in my opinion, but finding one loose and complete still may set you back a pretty penny.

** Thanks to's Resources section for the pictures **
(I was too lazy to take my own pictures...very crazy week for me)